Disaster Preparedness Plan May Save Your Pet’s Life

With June 1 marking the first day of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season, it’s crucial to raise awareness about the importance of planning for pets’ safety before it’s too late.

VCA veterinarian Donna J. Spector, DVM, DACVIM, offers the following tips to help you be prepared when a disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado, strikes your home:

If you are ever instructed to leave your home during an emergency situation, ALWAYS take your pets with you. You never know when you will be allowed to return home. Keep these things in mind when evacuating with pets:

  • Having an emergency kit ready will ensure that you get out of the house with your loved ones fast and prepared! Recommended items for a kit include:

– Leash
– Collapsible water/food bowl
– Canned dog/cat food
– Pet toy
– Pet blanket
– Cloth towel
– Basic roll of bandaging material
– All-purpose nail clipper
– Flashlight with batteries
– Doggy bags (can also be used for cat litter clean-up)
– Disposable latex Gloves
– Emergency ice/heat pack
– Camera to take current photos of your pet and include in the kit
– Folder with list of types of vaccination records & medical history to get from vet

  • In case you are not home when disaster strikes, pre-place stickers on your doors to notify emergency workers or neighbors where on your property your animals are located and where to find your emergency pet kit.
  • Make sure to include a pre-signed medical treatment authorization in your kit. Include your VCA veterinarian’s name, clinic name and address and the information for a local emergency clinic. This will aid rescuers if you’ve become separated from your pet and it must be treated.
  • Keep your pets tags on them at all times because you never know when disaster may hit. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping as a form of permanent identification—this will increase the chances that your pet will be returned to you if you are ever separated.
  • Despite our best planning attempts, sometimes a pet must remain at home during an evacuation.  If so, leave them in the safest room in the house.  Leave at least a three to five day supply of dry food and water in no-spill containers. If you have large dogs, consider partially filling the bathtub as a water source.  If you have cats, consider turning on the faucet so a soft steady drip is present.

If you’ve evacuated with your pet during a disaster, the next questions you may be asking are – “Where should I go? Who can I turn to for help?” The following are suggestions on who to reach out to during a crisis situation:

  • Contact public emergency shelters in your evacuation area to inquire if they allow pets during natural disasters. Most often pets are not allowed in these shelters due to reasons of human health safety. However, some of them will allow cages or crates to be set up outside the shelter if you ask.
  • Contact hotels and motels in your evacuation area so you know which ones accept pets. Make sure you ask if they have any limitations on the number, size, species or breeds they allow.  Some dog breeds (e.g. Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Doberman, etc.) are not allowed. If there is a “no pet policy” ask if they make exceptions in the case of a natural disaster or if they would allow pets in crates.
  • Contact animal shelters and kennels in your evacuation area. Some of these facilities allow pets to stay during emergencies.

Talk to your VCA veterinarian about other ways to prepare for emergency situations with your pets, or visit FEMA’s website for additional tips:

To learn more about VCA Animal Hospitals, visit us at www.vcahospitals.com or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VCAAnimalHospitals.
To safe and happy pets,
VCA Animal Hospitals and Dr. Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM

Dr. Donna Spector is a board-certified veterinary internist who has written and lectured extensively on nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and other animal health issues. She has over a decade of hands-on Internal Medicine experience, helps over 60 general veterinarians across the country manage difficult medical cases every week, provides continuing education for over 2,000 veterinarians every month, is the chief veterinary advisor to Halo, Purely for Pets (a prominent holistic pet food company co-owned by Ellen DeGeneres), serves as a veterinary expert on several nation-wide radio talk shows, and has her advice widely quoted on popular pet blogs and in pet-oriented publications.

One comment

  1. Karina says:

    Thanks for sharing the helpful tip and for creating awareness. This is something that I haven’t thought about. There haven’t been any disasters in my area, but you know what they say, it is better to be safe than to be sorry later on. When do you think is the best time to bring your pets with you?

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